Friday, December 21, 2007

Josh Hamilton: Texas Ranger

Spring 2001. Dan Rosendahl and I travel during spring break to Florida for a week of baseball- seven games in five days and some great stories featuring George Brett and some old Red Sox fans. A-Rod's a Ranger and autographs from Ranger greats Rusty Greer and Rafael Palmiero as well as Jonathan Johnson and Ryan Glynn.
One of the games we went to was the Minnesota Twins against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. In fact, it may have been our first game. This was where Dan played the little kid to the groundskeeper's Mean Jow Green, who tossed him a ball. I got one that was hit during batting practice by the immortal BJ Garbe, the Twins first round draft pick in 1999 who still can't get out AA ball.
With that ball, I was determined to get a good autograph. When I entered the stadium during batting practice, one guy stood out from the rest: the Devil Ray's number one draft pick in the entire draft, 19 year old Josh Hamilton. There were a few old guys standing around with notebooks full baseball cards and Hamilton was signing them. I thought this is a good guy who to sign my new ball. But it was taking too long with the other guys and he had to run and hit batting practice. He looked at me and told me that he would be right back. During batting practice he was showed light pole power, crushing pitches out of the park. To his credit, when he was done hitting, he came over and signed my ball. However, about that time, I looked around and realized that was I was a 27 year old guy and I was clamoring for the autograph of a 19 year old kid. The other guys who were standing around were old balding guys who, frankly, looked like complete loser. While the rest of the week, I still got lots of autographs and have paid for a few autographs, it was the beginning of the end of my careing about baseball players autographs. Now, if it's Nolan Ryan or Troy Aikman or someone of that ilk, then I'll act a complete loser to get that.
Anyway, after that year, he fell off the face of the earth, battling injuries and drug problems. In fact, he didn't play proball from 2002-2005. Then he came back last year with an OPS of .924 and with 19 hrs and covering centerfield. Now the Rangers take a risk on a guy who can be a All-Star or end up homeless. I think it's a good call. I'll talk more later.

1 comment:

Doug Jones #1 fan said...

Russel Russel it's not fair
Baseballs flying everywhere